International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Economic Liberalisation Policies and Inter-Ethnic Conflicts in Delta State, Nigeria
Idowu Johnson

This paper examines economic liberalisation policies (privatisation, currency devaluation, removal of state subsidies on education, health and petroleum products, and public sector rationalisation) with a view to explaining their influences on inter-ethnic conflicts in Delta State of Nigeria. Economic liberalisation policies are contradictory to the sustenance of social cohesion in Delta State. State economic policies that undermined the marginalised groups had been externally imposed. The intensification of inter-ethnic conflicts in Delta State was attributed to the decay in state institutions and economic crisis of late 1980s and 1990s. Ethnic mobilisation rose as the capacity and strength of institutions of the state eroded and was no longer able to provide citizens with either physical or economic security. Government spending on social services such as education, health and housing in Warri metropolis in the last twenty years decreased, provoking competition and struggle for resources as well as inter-ethnic violence among the Ijaw, Itsekiri and Urhobo. Marginalised groups with unrealised expectations became particularly hostile to elements of economic liberalisation within the state system which they perceived to be responsible for the erosion of state welfare programme. Alienation from the state encouraged participation in ethnic movements. Economic liberalisation policies have aggravated inter-ethnic conflicts in Delta State because they reduced the welfare role of the state and intensified competition for scarce resources under economic crisis. However, a reformation of the Nigerian state in the direction of social welfarism will reduce the phenomenal growth of inter-ethnic conflicts in Delta State of Nigeria.

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